Handbook on Multi-level Governance
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Handbook on Multi-level Governance

Edited by Henrik Enderlein, Sonja Wälti and Michael Zürn

Scholarship of multi-level governance has developed into one of the most innovative themes of research in political science and public policy. This accessible Handbook presents a thorough review of the wide-ranging literature, encompassing various theoretical and conceptual approaches to multi-level governance and their application to policy-making in domestic, regional and global contexts.
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Chapter 5: Global Governance as Multi-level Governance

Michael Zürn


Michael Zürn1 5.1 INTRODUCTION ‘Global governance’ is an amorphous term which draws a lot of attention partially because the concept is open to many interpretations. Common to all uses of the term global governance is the notion that it is distinct from international anarchy – the unrestricted interplay of states driven by self-interest. In global governance contexts, states and other social actors recognize the existence of obligations and feel, at least to some extent, compelled to honor them.2 This spin of the term governance is specific to the field of international relations. While governance in other academic disciplines often refers to the replacement of state regulations by public–private partnerships and market mechanisms and is thus sometimes seen as part of a neo-liberal program (Offe 2008, p. 65), in international relations it has been connected to the notion of more, not less, regulation. However, this regulatory spin is not only idiosyncratic to a specific academic subdiscipline, but also points to the core of the concept of governance, namely to regulate collective problems and achieve common goals (Mayntz 2008). Governance refers to the entirety of regulations – that is, the processes by which norms, rules and programs are monitored, enforced and adapted, as well as the structures in which they work – put forward with reference to solving a specific problem or providing a common good (see Benz 2005; Schuppert 2007; Zürn 2008). Governance activities are justified with reference to the common good, but they do not necessarily serve it. While government...

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